manufacturer Archives - Shopfloor

Exxel Outdoors: MTB Will Help Us Grow

By | Trade | No Comments

As the 112th Congress came to a close in early January they failed to pass a new miscellaneous tariff bill (MTB) package that would prevent taxes from increasing on manufacturers in the United States.  The MTB provides tariff relief to manufacturers on critical inputs that are not available in the United States, helping manufacturers better compete and create jobs.

Exxel sleeeping bag inspector examining a bag on the conveyor belt.

Exxel sleeeping bag inspector examining a bag on the conveyor belt.

Exxel Outdoors is a manufacturer that would benefit from a new MTB package. Exxel makes outdoor products such as sleeping bags, tents and hunting and fishing apparel. They are the only company that produces mass-market sleeping bags domestically, at their factory in Haleyville, Alabama. Exxel Alabama manufacturers over two million family-style sleeping bags annually.

Exxel’s sleeping bag production requires the use of materials and inputs that aren’t available domestically. The MTB would help Exxel lower costs, enabling the company to better compete against growing global competition.

“We depend on raw materials that just cannot be sourced here in the U.S. to manufacture our sleeping bags domestically,” said Harry Kazazian, founder and CEO of Exxel Outdoors. “We have approximately 100 employees at our Haleyville facility, and we have plans to expand our operations and add more jobs here.  Passage of the MTB would help us keep costs down, allowing us to be more competitive with other countries and to expand faster.”

Kazazian is hopeful that Congress will act as quickly as possible to pass the MTB to help manufacturers create jobs.  Exxel faces competition from all over the world, and is already 20 percent more expensive to manufacture in the United States compared to our largest trading partners. The MTB would help to bring those costs to manufacture in the U.S. down.

Kazazian stated, “We need Congress to act expeditiously to help create American manufacturing jobs at a critical time for our economy.”

President Issues Executive Order to Export Taskforce

By | Trade | No Comments

In advance of last week’s meeting of the President’s Export Council (PEC), President Obama issued Executive Order 13630 to establish an interagency task force on commercial advocacy to help U.S. exporters get better access to commercial diplomacy, financing, market intelligence, business leads and technical assistance.

The Commerce Department’s Advocacy Center, which promotes U.S. companies bidding on projects for foreign governments and foreign government-owned corporations, will lead the task force. Currently, 15 federal agencies play a role in export promotion and trade policy. The Advocacy Center last year helped U.S. firms win about $87 billion in contracts. The new Task Force is part of broader efforts under the President’s National Export Initiative (NEI), which has the goal of doubling U.S. exports by 2015. The Commerce Department also released a Fact Sheet with more details.

The Executive Order laid out several objectives for the Task Force:

Review and prioritize already approved commercial advocacy cases, and coordinate the activities of relevant agencies to enhance federal support for those cases, to better help U.S. exporters competing for foreign procurements;

  • Increase the number of senior-level agency officials regularly and effectively advocating on behalf of U.S. exporters by coordinating the engagement of agency leadership with their foreign counterparts regarding commercial advocacy issues, particularly during foreign travel and other occasions for engagement with foreign officials;
  • Increase the number of U.S. businesses utilizing commercial advocacy services by developing strategies to raise the awareness of commercial advocacy assistance within the U.S. business community;
  • Expand awareness of opportunities for U.S. businesses to sell their goods and services to foreign governments;
  • Facilitate voluntary short-term personnel exchanges between the Commerce Department and other Task Force agencies, to cross-train federal personnel to better serve U.S. exporters.

The Task Force is also required to submit a progress report to the Export Promotion Cabinet every six months detailing the number of commercial advocacy cases opened and successfully concluded, the number of commercial advocacy engagements by senior-level agency officials, and the number of U.S. businesses utilizing commercial advocacy services.

The NAM has long been supportive of the NEI and other federal export promotion efforts, highlighting exports as part of “A Manufacturing Renaissance” and offering a “Blueprint to Double Exports in Five Years.”  The NAM has also partnered with the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service to help manufacturers expand their export sales through the New Market Export Initiative (NMEI). Through the NMEI, the NAM will work with manufacturers to find new markets for your U.S. manufactured products.

Lauren Airey is director of trade facilitation policy, National Association of Manufacturers.

U.S. Judge: EPA Overstepped Bounds

By | Energy | One Comment

This afternoon a federal judge in the U.S. District Court in Washington ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) overstepped the bounds of the law in its Final Guidance for coal mining operations in Appalachia. The final guidance was in reality a prohibition on mining permits.

The EPA’s action stepped on the rights of state agencies to manage this particular permit process. They took this action knowing full well what they were doing.

This is another example of how the EPA has overstepped its authority. The EPA continues to move forward on a wide range of burdensome regulations that are hampering our nation’s energy producers and driving up energy prices.

As we mentioned this morning, the Utility MACT regulations are forcing the closure of plants throughout the nation, costing jobs and driving up prices. Manufacturers simply can’t afford more regulations at a time when they are facing so many headwinds making it difficult to create jobs and grow.

Consumer Confidence Jumps Higher in May, Aided by Lower Energy Prices

By | Economy | No Comments

Consumer confidence jumped significantly in May, according to the Survey of Consumers from the University of Michigan and Thomson Reuters. The consumer sentiment index rose from 76.4 in April to 79.3 in May. This continues a nine-month trend of improvements in attitudes since last August.

The increase was largely due to a sharp increase in Americans’ perceptions about the current economic environment. This suggests that lower energy prices are helping to lift these figures. For instance, inflationary expectations continue to ease, with respondents now expecting 3.1 percent price increases over the next year. This is down from 3.9 percent in March.

Meanwhile, consumer opinions about future economic growth ebbed slightly, from 72.3 to 71.7. Nonetheless, individuals remain more confident about future conditions than they did last year, mirroring the longer-term upward trend.

Chad Moutray is chief economist, National Association of Manufacturers.

Manufacturing in State of the State Addresses: Kansas

By | Around the States, Energy, Taxation | No Comments

In his first State of the State address since leaving the U.S. Senate for the Capitol in Topeka, Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas declared economic growth to be his administration’s priority.

Kansas will emerge stronger economically through hard work, practical ingenuity and removing government impediments to both rural and urban private-sector growth. In the coming days, I will be proposing an integrated, strategic plan to spur the Kansas economy. This plan will create the framework for more private sector – not government – jobs; put more earnings in the pockets of average Kansans; and help to raise out of poverty many of our families and children who now despair.

The Republican specified two taxation proposals:

  • Enhanced Expensing: Allowing Kansas business to immediately deduct a higher percentage of the cost of an investment.
  • Rural Opportunity Zones, or ROZes, will provide a state income tax waiver for any individual relocating from out-of-state into any participating county that has experienced double digit percentage population decline the last ten years.

Five counties last year reported population losses higher than 19 percent. And there’s new, cheerful report by Reuters, “Kansas county at U.S. geographical center is dying.” (Nothing that a ban on farm machinery and paved roads wouldn’t fix.)

Gov. Brownback did not use the word “manufacturing” in his address, but he did speak directly to specific industries. Read More

Manufacturing in State of the State Addresses: Colorado

By | Around the States, Economy, Regulations | One Comment

Colorado’s new governor, John Hickenlooper, did not use the terms “manufacturing” or “industry” in his first State of the State address on Thursday, Jan. 13, but he started the speech by recalling how he and other investors overcame difficulties to create a successful Colorado Springs brewery. In other words, Gov. Hickenlooper began his speech by talking about using his experience in business and manufacturing to make larger points about Colorado, its economy, and the state’s challenges.

Almost 20 years ago to the day, a person who knew that I loved old buildings coaxed me down 70 miles south of here to look at the only registered historical landmark in downtown Colorado Springs. It was scheduled for demolition. I bought that building from the bank, but despite previous successes in Denver and Fort Collins, I could not attract investors to save the old Cheyenne Hotel.

After almost two years of work, when the bank was on the verge of repossessing the building, our general contractor, the man – the legend – Chuck Murphy, saw another approach. He called a meeting of all the subcontractors who had bid on the project – the electrician, the plumber, the sprinkler guy, all of the others – to come listen to the same pitch I’d been giving to wealthy investors.

Despite my skepticism that small businesspeople would accept such risk, they put their money down. We raised the last $150,000 from the subcontractors. They become my partners. From that point on, everything was different. I’ll never forget when the electrician came and was concerned about lighting in the bar. He suggested that we replace the deluxe fan system in our plans with an equally durable fan that also featured lights. I asked what the extra cost was going to be, and he said I’m your partner, “Why would I add an extra cost?”

That’s how we built the Phantom Canyon Brewing Co.

Two other simple statements merit appreciative note:

  • Our top priority must be jobs.
  • Sustainable jobs are created by the private sector.

And the Democratic governor tied these principles into a call for regulatory reform, or at least regulatory reporting:

In the days ahead, I would like to see if we could look at adding a regulatory impact statement or something like a regulatory impact statement to new legislation. Just as we require a fiscal note for every new bill that estimates the costs to state government, we could also include an estimation of the cost to businesses of additional regulations.

Manufacturing in the State of the State Addresses: Washington

By | Infrastructure | One Comment

Governor Christine Gregoire of Washington delivered her State of the State address at the Capitol in Olympia today. (Text) She did not mention specifically manufacturing and her sole reference to “industry” was to the construction industry. The Democratic governor, re-elected in 2008, did of course talk about business and the business climate.

We must do everything we can to stimulate the economy and put Washington State back to work.

I propose cutting the unemployment insurance and workers compensation rates by more than $1 billion to help businesses and our unemployed get back to work.

We need to provide retraining to unemployed workers whose jobs no longer exist. And we need to get injured workers healthy and back to work as soon as possible.

I’m asking you to get a bill to my desk by February 8 so more than 65,000 small businesses can receive a 48 percent reduction in their unemployment insurance rates. The savings can help small businesses invest, expand and stimulate economic growth in every community across our state.

Jobs are the way out of the recession, especially in one of the hardest hit areas — the construction sector. Through the capital and transportation budgets and the Public Works Trust Fund, we can start shovel-ready projects, modernize our infrastructure and put almost 40,000 people to work. As the construction industry goes, so goes our state budget.

Brazil: Raising Tariffs, Reducing Tariffs

By | Trade | One Comment

Reuters, Dec. 30, “Brazil’s incoming president to hike tariffs“:

SAO PAULO — Brazil’s incoming President Dilma Rousseff is planning aggressive measures including targeted tariff increases and tax breaks to address damage caused to manufacturers by the country’s overvalued currency …

Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega has warned of a “currency war” as countries, including the United States and China, attempt to depress their currencies’ value and take other measures to boost local production and exports.

Mantega told reporters on Thursday the consequences from the recent rise in the real “will be dealt with from January by the next government, probably (via) measures in the trade sector.”

Reuters, Dec. 13, “Developing nations agree tariff cut to boost trade“:

BRASILIA (Reuters) – Nearly a dozen developing countries led by Brazil and India will sign an accord this week to cut tariff barriers and boost trade among themselves, a senior Brazilian government official said on Monday.

Negotiations under the Global System of Trade Preferences Among Developing Countries were relaunched in 2005 in an attempt to diversify developing countries’ trade revenue and reduce their dependence on rich countries.

Around 43 countries are signatories to the original GSTP agreement from 1988, and 11 countries will sign the updated accord in southern Brazil this week.

EPA Wants More Time on Boiler MACT Rule

By | Energy, Regulations | No Comments

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced in a press release today that it filed for an extension in federal court for the final issuance of rules establishing stricter emissions limits for large and small boilers, solid waste incinerators and process heaters (“Boiler MACT”). The Agency was under a court order to issue the final rules by January 16, 2011, but it is now seeking to extend the deadline until April of 2012. The press release stated “the additional time is needed for the agency to re-propose the rules based on a full assessment of information received since the rules were proposed.”

The EPA has received tremendous pressure to revise the proposed rules from manufacturing groups as well as members of congress. Last week, a group of senators wrote a letter to Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and EPA Administrator Jackson urging them to release a Department of Commerce study analyzing the economic impact of the rules.

Should the courts grant the EPA’s request for an extension, manufacturers urge the Agency to continue meeting with the interested parties to ensure that the new emission limits are realistic and affordable. Boilers represent major investments for many companies, and adding unnecessary compliance costs could add to consumer costs in the end.

Now It’s Sewage . . . EPA Regulation Flows On

By | Regulations | No Comments

The EPA is at it yet again, this time tightening emission limits for Sewage Sludge Incineration (SSI) units. The NAM and several other business groups are concerned with the manner in which EPA is proposing to address periods of startup, shutdown or malfunction (SSM) in this rulemaking and several other recently proposed and final rules for combustion units. To that end, the coalition urged the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to withdraw the SSI proposed rule in comments it filed this week with the agency.

In the proposal, the EPA applies the same emission limits during startup and shutdown as during normal operating periods. In many cases, it may be that combustion units emit a higher concentration of pollutants during these startup and shutdown periods. In addition, the EPA asserts that it is not required to account for malfunctioning equipment in setting emission standards. The agency continues to set dangerous precedent by prescribing standards that real world equipment is not able to meet. These standards impose undue regulatory burden and compliance costs on manufacturers which in turn impacts their ability to compete in the global marketplace.